CHAPMANVILLE — Rob Dial is no stranger when it comes to Chapmanville football.
A former longtime Offensive Coordinator for ex-Tigers coaches Ronnie Ooten and George Barker, Dial was named as the new Chapmanville Regional High School head football coach on Thursday night at the Logan County Board of Education meeting.
Dial replaces Barker, who stepped down recently after 12 seasons and six playoff appearances.
Barker will remain at Chapmanville Regional as the school’s Athletics Director.
Dial was Chapmanville’s Offensive Coordinator from 1999-2012 and said he had an itch to get back into the game.
The last four years, Dial has held administrative positions and is currently the principal at Chapmanville Middle School.
Dial last coached two summers ago and assisted Logan High School’s Gary Mullins with the West All-Stars in the first-ever East-West All-Star Classic at Mingo Central — a game in which the West won 35-0 over the East.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Dial said in an interview with the Logan Banner on Friday morning. “There’s two buzz words — excited and humbled. I’m very excited and very humbled and blessed to follow in the footsteps of Coach Barker who has built a strong football program. It feels good to have this opportunity.”
Dial said he’s happy to be back in football.
“I’ve been out of football for four years,” he said. “The last four years I’ve worked in different kind of administration positions and I’m currently the principal at Chapmanville Middle School but I will be giving that up to be the head football coach at Chapmanville Regional High School and I will also be getting a teaching position at the high school.”
Replacing Barker will not be an easy task.
In his decade-plus tenure, Barker built Chapmanville’s football program in a consistent winner and expectations have only risen over the years.
In past eras, the Tigers had only hoped to make it to the playoffs.
With Coach Barker at the helm, Chapmanville expected to make it to the post-season.
After six straight winning seasons from 2006-11 and five playoff appearances, Chapmanville Regional dipped to 4-6, 5-5 and 4-6 records in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Last year, however, Chapmanville returned to the playoffs, going 7-4 and eventually falling 42-14 at home to Robert C. Byrd in the opening round.
The Tigers started off 7-0 after a thrilling, last-second 35-28 victory at county rival Man.
Last fall was another high-water mark for Chapmanville football in that it was only the second time in school history the Tigers had hosted a home playoff game on its home field.
Back in 2011, Barker led the Tigers to the Class AA state semifinals as Chapmanville fell 33-13 at Point Pleasant, leaving Chapmanville only a single game from reaching the Wheeling Super Six State Championships for the first time in school history.
Dial was there during Chapmanville’s playoff run and said Barker has laid down a solid foundation at CRHS that he hopes to continue.
“The expectations that we have and that have been set are high and that is to Coach Barker’s credit and respect,” Dial said.
Nothing is ever easy for the Tigers, especially playing in the difficult Cardinal Conference, Dial said.
The conference expanded to 10 teams this year with the additions of Logan, Nitro and Winfield.
Chapmanville has added Nitro and Winfield to its 2016 football schedule and will have a full nine-game conference slate. Logan, Nitro and Winfield are all dropping down to Double-A from the Class AAA ranks.
“We play in arguably the toughest Double-A conference in the state in the Cardinal Conference and it just got tougher with the additions of Logan, Nitro and Winfield,” Dial said. “With the schedule that we play and the success that we’ve had that’s a credit to Coach Barker and what he has been able to do over the last 10 years.”
Chapmanville is scheduled to open the season Aug. 26 at Sissonville in Coach Dial’s debut.
“The way that it works out is that we will have five home games and five away games and nine conference games. There’s 10 teams in the conference now and we will be playing all nine opponents,” Dial said. “We will have one out of conference game and that will be Man. The conference really seemed to improve greatly in football, and in all sports for that matter, with the additions of the new teams. Coach Gary Mullins does a fantastic job at Logan year in and year out and we know that they are going to have some good, young talent coming up, too. They will be very tough. Winfield with Coach Snyder did a good job last year and were very competitive. Nitro also has a new coach, a coach who came from South Charleston, and they will be better.”
Other tough games are also ahead.
The home debut is Sept. 2 against Herbert Hoover.
“We also have Wayne, Sissonville, Scott and Mingo Central,” Dial said. “Yogi (Kinder) does a great job at Mingo Central with that program. We’re going to have to adopt a blue collar mentality in order for us to be successful.”
Dial said he was to meet with prospective football players on Friday.
Then in June, Chapmanville will have its three-week summer practice period.
During that time, Dial hopes to get started with the implementation of Chapmanville’s basic offensive and defensive schemes and also to work on conditioning.
“Today I’m going to be meeting with prospective players,” Dial said. “Then in May, June and July we’ll be doing some things. In June, we have the three-week practice period and that’s an opportunity for us to implement some of the things that we want to establish. There will be some changes but we’re really not going to change a whole lot because we believe in what Coach Barker has done and the system that he had. It’s also a chance for the players to see what is expected of them.”
Also in June during the three-week period, Chapmanville is set to host a 7-on-7 passing tournament on Friday, June 17 at Tiger Stadium.
Dial said the Tigers will also be going to 7-on-7s at Marshall University and West Virginia State University.
“The best thing about the June practice period are the 7-on-7s,” Dial said. “The kids learn how to compete.”
Last year, Chapmanville played for the first time on its new Field Turf. Logan and Man also turfed its football stadiums as part of a $2.5 million joint project by the Logan County Board of Education and the Logan County Commission.
Chapmanville and Man showcased their turfed stadiums last year in the playoffs.
“To be able to go and play on a Field Turf surface and also to see the turf at Logan and Man we’re pleased and fortunate for the Board of Education and the Logan County Commission for helping us get it,” Dial said. “It allows us to practice regardless of the weather, We can still get out there and work and get some practice in and not have to worry about the mud even if it is raining. That levels the playing field. It’s a benefit not only to the football team and our football programs but also our soccer programs. There’s always something seeming to be going on at the stadium.”
Personnel-wise, the Tigers will be looking for a new quarterback this fall as three-year starter and senior Alex Berry will be lost to graduation.
Last season, Berry completed 165-of-251 passes for 2,345 yards with 31 TDs and only eight interceptions and was named All-State Special Honorable Mention.
Also lost will be senior wide receiver Jacob Dingess, a second-team all-state pick last year. He had 73 catches for 1,157 yards and 15 TDs last season.
Another big loss will be senior Tanner Dillon, who was a second-team all-state punter. He averaged around 35 yards per kick and was 46-for-50 in extra points and 3-for-4 in field goal attempts. As a running back, he also rushed for 1,000 yards and played a key role on defense as well.
All-state lineman Ricky Combs will also be lost to graduation as well as lineman and long snapper Andy Bias, however, all-state center Evan Willis, a rising junior, returns for the Tigers.
Adam Vance, last year’s backup quarterback to Berry, returns as well as Dylan Smith, who rushed for 357 yards and scored four touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 584 yards and eight more scores.
Noah Dingess and Billy Sheppard, a pair of wideouts, also are back as well as top defenders Ryan Craddock, Tim Bigley, Austin Butcher, Alex Oxley, Philip Oxley, Ethan Thompson and others.
High School 2016
Aug. 26: *at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 2: *Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9: *at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: *Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: *at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30: *at Nitro, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7: Man, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14: *at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21: *Winfield, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28: *at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: OPEN DATE
*Cardinal Conference game
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).